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Exit Interviews…too little too late! Now is the time to stay connected.

exit interviews hr compliance hr interviews hr management Nov 23, 2020

Exit interviews seem to be a process in organizations with little analysis or impactful action.  And now more than ever, we need to know what our employees are thinking.  Many of our employees are working remotely, and if they are coming to work they have peer working remotely or can’t get very close to anyone. Its critical, now more than ever, that we know what they are thinking.

In a traditional Exit Interview, HR team members collect data, or have employees complete a survey, and little is done with the information.  In small organizations this is often because 3-4 exiting employees don’t create much of a pattern.  In larger organizations the data is historical in nature and manager just aren’t interested.  Human Resources functions are revamping the process with the goal of gathering and reflecting on the data in real time when action can be taken.

The exit interview focuses attention on the concerns and wishes of employees that have chosen to leave your organization, or those that you have decided should leave.  Are those the opinions that are valuable to collect?  Wouldn’t it make sense to shift your focus spent to the retention of your current staff?  The key should be to make sure that you understand what is driving top performers and what would keep the employees on your team that drive your business forward.

Enter the Stay Interview.  Essentially, it’s a tool to gather information while your team is intact – and look at what they would find appealing opportunities for the future.  With a well-designed stay interview, you can generate new programs, fix broken processes and create communication that may keep team members from looking for other opportunities.

Stay interviews take on a variety of forms.  They can be surveys, one-on-one meetings with managers and open focus groups.  It can be very interesting to invite a random group of employees to breakfast with leadership and have them talk about what they like and what they would like to change.  This allows employees to ask questions, speak openly and form a connection with leadership that may build a bridge should an issue arise in the future.

Moving to stay interviews should be an ongoing process that allows you to evaluate and engage with the team.  Some benefits include:

  1. Understanding your turnover. Track the separations from your organization and look for patterns. What are their reasons for leaving/staying? Is there a pattern relating to a certain period of time with your company, or maybe a particular department? One solution may not fit all, and it is important to find the right solution for your needs.  Use this information to create the topics of interest for your stay interview.
  2. Answer questions employees may be thinking about: Don’t wait until they leave to ask why…ask now! See The Wall Street Journal Article. It goes beyond an engagement survey – instead asking specifically why they like working for you.  If they could change one thing in the next 3 months what would it be?  What would cause them to look for a new job.
  3. Review reward policies in relation to retention? Data tells us that employees are continually getting 3% raises, but if they switch jobs they can get a 10 – 15% increase.  This has always baffled me!  Why wouldn’t you give a salary increase of 10% to a top performer that you know – and knows you – rather than take a chance on an unknown person?  There isn’t always a promotion opportunity in your organization, or the employee may want a new experience, but consider it next time your top talent is up for a raise.

The economy is strong again, unemployment is at record lows and we see employees looking for new opportunities. Employees generally prefer to stay with the organization they have given their energy to in the past – but if they don’t feel connected they have no problem moving on!  Feeling like a valued part of the team that is contributing to the business’ success is often what employees are looking for today. Open communication from both supervisor and subordinate is key and a stay interview can be an effective way to connect.

Thanks for reading!

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